Sunday, January 15, 2012

Review: The Lost Angel by Javier Sierra

Book Details:
The Lost Angel
By Javier Sierra, Translated by Carlos Frias
Genre: Fiction
Published October 2011, Atria Books
Paperback, 378 pages
ISBN: 9781451632798

          New York Times bestselling author Javier Sierra returns with a heartpounding, apocalyptic thriller about mankind’s most ancient desire—and the modern evil some will unleash to obtain it. Every religion has a story for how our species came to mix with yours and was doomed to this planet. We are the sons of exiles. Cursed. Even man condemned us, blaming us for all the evils of the world. On the one hand you worshiped us, these beings who brought knowledge from the heavens. But you also feared us for what we might want in return. . . .”
In approximately seventy-two hours, a little-known Middle Eastern terrorist group plans to bring about the end of the world. Convinced that they are the descendants of angels, they believe they are on the verge of at last being returned to heaven. Central to their plan is the kidnapping of Martin Faber, an undercover American scientist whose research has led him to an extraordinary secret.
Martin’s only hope for survival is his young wife, Julia Alvarez—a woman born with a rare psychic gift. But she must find the courage to save her husband, all while running from religious extremists and clandestine government agencies.
Sierra takes readers on an adventure across the world, from the summit of Mount Ararat to the high desert of New Mexico, from the monuments of Washington, DC, to the medieval city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Sierra spent years investigating scientific and historical mysteries related to mankind’s efforts to engage directly with the Almighty.
The Lost Angel bears all the hallmarks of Sierra’s erudite yet fast-paced brand of storytelling, combining historical fact and fiction with dazzling narrative feats.
This book had almost too much going on, with an extensive glossary in the beginning pages - complete with color photos - that I needed to read beforehand to keep up with the plot. Javier Sierra made a point of mixing fact with fiction in this novel, and the book reads like an extensive 'conspiracy theory.' My husband is much more familiar with many aspects of the plot, and I often asked him if what I was reading about was really true or not. The book opens with a quotation of Genesis 6: 2-3, which states "...the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, 'My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.'" This is followed by a quote from John Dee, who figures prominently in the plot, though I did not find the quote to be especially inspiring.
The main focus of the book is about a group of people who consider themselves descendants of those angels that joined with "the daughters of man," and want to find a way to get back into heaven. They will use any means necessary to accomplish this -- murder, deceit, even putting the whole planet in jeopardy.
The main character, Julia Alvarez, is a psychic who is completely duped by their antics. I understand that the author means for the reader to feel sympathy for the angelic descendants through Julia's narration, but the way that Julia allows herself to be used and deceived by even her own husband disgusts me. She believes whatever they tell her and does not question anything. In fact, anyone that does question this main family is characterized as foolish and forgettable, such as Ellen Watson and Inspector Figueiras.
There was one main problem I had with the plot, which is that in the Bible, the angels that mate with human women are 'fallen' because they disobeyed God, which is never addressed. What is also never addressed is any scriptural substantiation for what they believed about Noah and the ark. They believed they could force God to take them back into heaven with their thrown-together mish-mash of technology. How is that believable?  God kicked the angels out - they certainly can't force their way back in! Not to mention, this family does not back up their belief that they are descendants of angels with actual scientific proof, such as DNA tests, even though they all claim to be men (and woman) of science.
Overall, the book twists a blasphemous tale of Biblical scripture, using factual information to support a fictitious plot. It has suspense, intrigue, and even a bit of romance, but the end is neither believable nor enjoyable. While books of this nature became popular thanks to the works of Dan Brown, (yes, I've read his stuff, too), I found this book to be merely an okay read.

The Cover: The cover works well with the book, as it contains several hints of the plot, such as the shadow of a symbol that shows on the floor, the black suitcase, the architecture, and the explosion in the background.

First Line: "The glow from an enormous flat-screen monitor illuminated the National Security Agency director's office just as the electric blinds obscured the adjacent waiting room with a whispered hum."
There is not much here to entice the reader to continue, though it does hint at the plot with the reference to the NSA.

Read For: Outdo Yourself Challenge, Twenty-Eleven Challenge

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*


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